Is your email newsletter readable on a mobile device?

August 25th, 2011 No Comments

Is your email newsletter readable on a mobile device? Mobile email is not an option today but a must.

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The Best and Worst Time to Send E-mails

August 20th, 2011 No Comments

What are the best time and worst time to send emails?

Are you testing your best times? If not, you may not be seeing effective results.

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The Marketing Creativity Conundrum

August 16th, 2011 No Comments

Frequently, when planning marketing campaigns or discussing how to market a brand or product, there’s a demand for creative ideas. The first stage of many people’s planning is looking for creative ways to “promote” their campaign.

how_to_store_a_cakeBut, frequently, what they are missing isn’t creativity but rather a working strategy:

  • What’s the strategy?
  • Who is the audience? Usually there are multiple audience stakeholders
  • What’s the core messaging (values/benefits for each target market)
  • Are you positioned in the right market?
  • Are you going after the people most likely to buy?
  • Tactically – are you running a B2C campaign for a B2B campaign?
  • Have you discussed the ROI: What’s in it for them?
  • Are you using the right channels? If you’re working with a PR company, are they pitching media with the right messages or just posting press releases on free press release sites?

There’s a role for creativity, but that’s the icing. Creativity – or lack of it  – won’t make or break your product/service. However, if you have the wrong strategy, than you won’t succeed. You can have a cake without icing, but you can’t have a cake without flour. Strategy is the flour, while creativity is the icing. Icing’s nice, but are you trying to get the icing without doing the hard work?

Creativity comes after a proper strategy.

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Strategy Requires Tactics Throughout the Entire Sales Funnel

July 13th, 2011 No Comments

Strategy must embrace the entire sales funnel: from branding and positioning and defining market position to determining the best tactical approaches to bring a lead into the sales funnel and nurture them until the sale is closed and they are a brand evangelist, creating more leads for you.

This is not a one time approach.

Strategists – frequently outside consultants – tend to come in and build a positioning. But, without the knowledge of time to implement, the strategy sounds great in theory but has more holes than string cheese when trying to implement it in the real world.

Implementors, however, don’t get the big picture. Some just want to push hard to make the sale and don’t see the steps in between. Others are big at talking about engagement or likes or fans or traffic, but don’t get that the end goal is to convert: sales, donations, or whatever else the goal is that was initially defined (you did define it, right? probably not for these implementors).

There are multiple touch points until someone buys something. People don’t buy – or even try – the first time that they hear about a new product. There are even more to turn the customer into an evangelist which will create repeat sales and new customers through word-of-mouth.

In order to download a software trial, the sales funnel might look something like:

  1. Saw a tweet | social media
  2. Read a blog article shortened with bit.ly |MARCOM and social media
  3. Read an article on product website | MARCOM and web
  4. Saw an ad in search results (PPC) | web and PPC firm
  5. Read an article in a print magazine | public relations
  6. Friend posted a link to online version of article on Facebook | word of mouth, public relations, social media
  7. Person Googled name of company | SEO
  8. Got to website and downloaded trial software | web

This is not a simple process. It took multiple touchpoints that were often performed by a variety of staff or agencies to achieve the conversion. And, while measurement is essential, this conversion won’t be measured completely accurate, with a mix of online and offline elements, brand awareness leading to the final conversion, and technical problems that will not lead to accurate traffic sources being counted.

This will lead to blindness when evaluating the implementation. Those who developed the strategy that requires the tactics needs to understand the need for multiple integrated touch points. Marketing strategists need to be integrated and get a multiple touchpoint model. Those implementing need to be able to integrate as well, crossing multiple functions and one person should have multiple skills, and also ability to work with a variety of staff members and share the credit for conversion.

Of course, the job isn’t done yet. The product hasn’t yet been sold.

The process gets even more complicated when going from download to sale:

  1. Downloadable product must be functional, with minimal bugs, and a good user interface | development, product management, UI
  2. It should serve its intended purpose, solve the users pain | development, product management, marketing
  3. User then recommends co-workers try it out
  4. Co-worker than recommends boss buys it
  5. Co-worker reads article in blog (that was reprinted from software consumer magazine) about how product
  6. Attends a webinar about product’s cool features
  7. Boss reads article in CIO magazine about how product saves company money
  8. Boss requests CFO explore the company’s financials
  9. CFO asks team leader to quantify time saved by using software
  10. Team leader reads white paper from company and summarizes it in report to CFO
  11. CFO reads analyst survey about product and how it compares to its competitors
  12. CFO approves purchase but asks for discount
  13. Sales has to negotiate price
  14. SALE

Marketing strategists and implementors also need to create and implement strategies that cross multiple team functions: from marketing, sales, individual users, lower-managers, middle managers, and upper management. There are multiple touch points to reach a sale. Does your strategy incorporate it?

 

 

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Developers Should Understand Business & Marketing

July 11th, 2011 No Comments

In my last post, I wrote about how marketers need to understand technology and web and software/hardware development.

But do developers also need to speak the language of business and marketers?
NWAV Showcase: Jinx '75 Visual Studio & Splitface
Developers need to understand marketing, to understand that the needs of the users who will be using their product, understand their personalities, and understand the needs of those who are actually buying the product. Particularly in a business-to-business environment, the person signing the check is usually not the person using the software or hardware.

Developers, guided by their product managers, need to get what the stakeholders want and ensure that the product actually speaks to their needs. The point isn’t just for the end-user to have a cool new toy. In the end, Jerry McGuire was correct: show me the money. Providing long-term value requires meeting financial goals. This requires a strong sales and marketing team, and cooperation between the teams.

This requires creating a great product, in the right space, and persuasively communicating the benefits of the product to the correct audiences. This can be achieved much better when both sides can understand the same language.

Gil Zilberfield speaks about this from the developer side. Developers need to speak both business and developer-ish. “It’s much easier to build the bridge when everyone talking the same language,” says Gil.

At the end of the day, you need to tell the story. When working in a commercial software environment, you have to get the sign off from those who have the purchasing authority. These are usually the business managers (who may not have a technical background): those who are purchasing the software or hardware because it fits a business need. If they don’t understand your product, or if it doesn’t fit their business need, they won’t buy it no matter how cool it might be to the technical user.

A commercial project isn’t the same as an open source project. For an open source project, you may only need to please the end users. But, for a commercial product, you’re not going to sell more than a handful if you can’t show that your product has a positive ROI: it helps save money – whether through saved time, better quality, reduced support costs, or other operational efficiencies. In order to be a market leader, you must be useful for all involved.

This is the same values for both business and developers. Businesses want a good product that is well-developed because it saves them money. Developers want a good product because it showcases their craftsmanship and ability to turn complex problems into a useful (and cool) solution. Either way: the end goal is providing value to the stakeholders (not only the end-user).

Being useful also means listening to your customers and your community. Some developers have claimed that marketing ruins the software community. However, that is a market failure – poor business management – not the job of marketing. According to Surfing the Long Summer, a book about how businesses can lead their market, one of the core criteria for success is a focus on the long-term vision. This is not achieved by focusing on short-term balance sheets or providing shareholder value. Short-term balance sheets are required only in order to have the resources to provide long-term value. If marketers of developer software upset their core community, that wasn’t the job of marketing but rather the failure of specific individuals who didn’t do their job. On the other hand, every developer evangelist or MVP program in the end is really there in order to sell more products or raise awareness. It, like everything else in a company, can only exist as long as it serves a defined business objective.

As another colleague wrote in his blog post Meet Marketing: The Dark Side of Software Development (even if I take issue with the title), “marketing is a necessary step towards releasing a great product. It’s imperative that the marketing department understands the product and the target audience for it. It is especially true if you’re building something other than a twitter client – a software development tool perhaps.” Of course, whether or not you are making development tools, the developers need to understand the users involved in the process from purchasing decisions to product usage. They need marketing to help with product usability and ensuring that it meets the functions that can give real business value. The software or hardware needs to meet the needs of those buying and using it.

Developers need marketing in order to help decide what the product is supposed to do and make sure that existing and potential customers’ needs are being met. Sitting closest to the customers, it’s the role of marketing and sales to help define the business requirements that the developers will then code. Only when both sides can effectively communicate, can they truly develop and sell a truly winning product.

In the end, success is achieved when teams can come together and silos can be broken in order to achieve mutual and integrated success. If one department isn’t successful, than the company can’t succeed.

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Are Marketers Technically Illiterate? Marketers Need to Get Technology and Development

July 8th, 2011 No Comments

Being called a computer geek before I ever worked professionally, I am sometimes shocked by the clashes between web and software and hardware developers, and marketing. In my mind, they both need to work together in order for the company to achieve its goals. I assumed developers understood the need for a clear message, and, like me, I thought marketers loved technology and computing.

Bored at WorkIn this first post, I will discuss why marketers need to be technically literate and understand developer and tech speak. In my next post, I will discuss why developers need to understand the language of business.

Marketers need to speak the language of technology – particularly their own, like web technologies, and their target products’, to craft the right messages, and position their products in the proper market niche.

Marketers need to get digital platforms: today’s core communication channels. In the old days of print, this may have been unnecessary for traditional marketers, with graphic designed easily outsourced. With the requirements of e-commerce affecting nearly all businesses, even service and physical stores, digital platforms have become essential touchpoints that need frequent adaptation – even minor – which require, at a minimum, basic web development and simple graphic design skills.

While the basic rules of strategy hasn’t changed, technology has always been a core component in formulating market strategy, and strategists need to develop a plan that makes sense when implemented in the real world. If it’s based on a misunderstanding of how the web works, a fancy obsession with the latest new toy, or a Luddite aversion to technology, that strategy will fail.

Technological literacy is becoming a necessary requirement for marketers, whether they are selling software or sofas. Whether purchasing online or just researching, platforms such as a website, blogs, mobile applications, and email, purchasing decisions take place over technical channels. The sales funnel happens online. Marketers need to understand this in order to develop and carry out correct strategy.

At a minimum, this means that marketers need to have the technical literacy and competency to know web development – at least the capability to handle basic tasks like content updating in a CMS, understanding the basics of SEO, which includes issues like clean code, web server load time, and page redirects and social media. They also need to know basic website management, even if the heavy lifting is handled by your web developer. With marketers that have a print background, the focus was on the final look of the deliverable to the viewer. With digital platforms, effectiveness isn’t just how it looks to the end-user but also the technical infrastructure on which it’s based on. If your website looks pretty, but can’t be indexed by the search engines, how useful is it?

This is true regardless of your product.

When selling hardware or software, technical literacy is even more important.

The role of the marketing strategist is to develop the market position. When selling technical products, the marketers need to have an understanding of the product, the position it belongs in, and the problem it is intended to solve. It’s the marketers that create the communication and messaging. They can’t derive messages or build a brand for something that they don’t understand. If the target audience is a foreign species, how can they craft an effective message and communicate authentically with them?

A thorough technical understanding of the product can also help find more channels to help promote your product. A few weeks ago, my company launched its first product for Linux. I’ve used the Ubuntu Linux distribution for several years. I’m not a Linux guru or a top sysadmin, but I can make my way around the command line when needed. In fact, I’m writing this post in Linux. This knowledge of Linux assisted in helping to craft a message that will be perceived as authentic to the Linux audience – coming from a Linux user itself – and identifying and locating more media outlets and channels to promote the product, which has already lead to increased product awareness.

Of course, marketing isn’t responsible for developing the product and development is not responsible for marketing the product.

Hence, the two sides need to work together and bridge the gaps.

In the next post, I will write about how software and hardware developers also need to understand marketing.

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It’s about the people

June 29th, 2011 No Comments

The world has changed. Digital is the new platform. The entire Internet and digital platforms are social. Social media is not the responsibility of one person — all media is now social.

Social media is not about technology. It’s about the people.

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Black Hat SEO

June 24th, 2011 No Comments

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StartUp Israel

June 17th, 2011 No Comments

Startup Israel Documentary from AEL Illinois on Vimeo.

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Email is Social

June 4th, 2011 No Comments

Is the person in charge of social media at your company also knowledgeable and in charge of your email marketing? Or, better asked, is all of your marketing integrated.

Despite calls that “e-mail is dead” because social media has taken the place of e-mail, that gets the process backwards — choose goals and strategy prior to choosing the technology or technologies to implement.

Email is social. Email is also very strongly integrated with social networks. Social media also integrates with email.

If you want fans to your Facebook page, you don’t simply create an offer and let it sit there. Frequently, one of the most effective tactics is to send an email to your list, informing them of the offer on Facebook. This serves the dual purpose of lead nurturing and also empowering your strongest advocates — those that chose to receive your email (it is opt-in only, right?) — to help promote yourself.

According to ClickZ:

E-mail should be working hand in hand with the other digital messaging channels and each channel should complement and leverage the strength of the other. Ask yourself:

  • Are you talking to your best advocates (e-mail list) and pushing them to your Facebook page where they can amplify the conversation in your favor?
  • Are you following up on conversations happening on Twitter and sending your followers the more detailed information, or coupon, or content they want?

You can also tweet your e-mail newsletter, like Smashing Magazine recently did.

According to ClickZ,

E-mail marketers need to get in this mindset – it’s not either/or; it’s not one killing the other; it’s two different channels that are very much the same.
This is why every facet of the campaign needs to be integrated; marketers need to start looking at holistic messaging strategies. Does your community manager have a schedule of when content will be pushed to Twitter and Facebook so that those two channels are complementing each other? Is e-mail on that same calendar? I’m not just talking about someone, somewhere in your organization who has a master marketing calendar. I mean, is all of your digital messaging working together in real-time? E-mail is just another one of your social channels, and it could be argued that the people who subscribe to that list are your best customers.

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